Monday, July 30, 2007

I feel Whitehall Webby's pain

Have just a read a brilliantly candid description of the headless chicken state of the Civil Service just before recess over at Whitehall Webby who says,
Unfortunately, the week or so before recess is a nightmare for people running government websites. Policy officials all over the department suddenly remember that they were supposed to have something published online months ago and they’re going on holiday for three weeks at half four.

‘It simply must be published’ , ‘It’s one of the department’s priorities’, ‘The minister has insisted that it goes on the website today’, are all commonly heard phrases from anxious harassed officials on the phone during weeks like this.
Ah yes, a priority that has been left in some idiots inbox because he's been too busy on Facebook, we Ops people know all about that! The next bit sounds eerily familiar too.
(us) ‘Alright, we’ll do our best, can you send us the documents in question together with the form we send out for all publication jobs’ (this covers things like metadata, where on the site it should go etc etc).

Nothing heard back by lunchtime. We called them - out to lunch. Left messages, still nothing.

Finally made contact at around 3pm. (them) ‘Why haven’t you published it yet?’ - (us) ‘You haven’t sent the documents to us’.

Wait a bit longer, call back - (us) ‘Is this still happening, we assume its not as you haven’t sent anything’ - (them) ‘I’ll send it in five minutes’.

Forty five minutes later, the email arrives. No documents attached. Try calling back, no reply. Send an urgent email ‘we tried calling you, need the documents urgently’. Twenty seconds later, we get an out of office message, on holiday for three weeks. Urgently tried calling, eventually somebody else picks up the phone, ‘Sorry he’s gone, don’t know anything about the documents’.

Three weeks later, (them) ‘why didn’t you do that thing I asked you?’ (us) ‘you didn’t send it’.
I've been there Webby, I feel the pain. I feel the frustration. I do though take solace that there non-techie to techie interfaces are just the same in the public and private sector.


guido faux said...

Dizzy it's so much easier when your entire company is techie.

dizzy said...

Impossible! Techs that become managers go over to the dark side!

Jeremy Gould said...

Dizzy, you are absolutely right. Perhaps I am being a bit unfair on officials, it wasn't much different working in the private sector except the pinch of recess holiday dates is a bit more severe. Now this wasting time on Facebook idea of yours sounds good - if we could only find a way of outwitting those IT security bods and their damned firewalls ;-) Thanks for the mention, and the traffic.

dizzy said...

if we could only find a way of outwitting those IT security bods and their damned firewalls ;-)

Bet I could do it! HTTP tunneling and squid, or perhaps ssh tunneling in some way? I love a challenge! And getting out is always easier than getting in.

No worries on the mention, enjoy reading your site.

guido faux said...

Of course they will let you through just to have a pretext to fire you later.